Being a goaltender in the NHL is extremely challenging and requires one to be extremely talented and athletic. Goalies are normally the backbones of an NHL contender because their play is what ultimately determines if a team can end up winning. Looking back in history, teams who have won the Stanley Cups almost always have a goalie who plays out of his mind in the playoffs. With that said, it is essential for a hockey team to commit to a star goalie once they have him. Yet, if they notice that he is struggling and may not be the answer, a change in net is extremely important.
With all that has been stated, in this article, we will be looking at ten NHL goalies who will be let go by their current teams and ten who will replace them. Some of the names on this list will be extremely shocking to some, but if you explode the possibility in depth, it makes all the sense in the world. Goalies are constantly changing once one starts to struggle because NHL teams know they are only as good as their goalie takes them. This is exactly why playing goalie is easily the most stressful position in the world and least secure. One’s consistent play is essential.
Nonetheless, let’s take a look at the ten goalies who will be losing their starting job and the players who will replace them!
20 Unemployed: Antti Raanta
Antti Raanta is very lucky that his contract is expiring after this season because he will have the chance to leave the Arizona Coyotes. The Arizona Coyotes are absolutely abysmal this season and need to go through a massive rebuilding period if they ever hope to make the playoffs again. It is essential for them.
Antti Raanta is a veteran goaltender who will want the opportunity to win the Stanley Cup.
Raanta may have issues securing a starting job with a legitimate contender, but anything at this point is better than playing for Arizona. Expect to see him jump shit extremely quickly and join a team better than the Coyotes.
19 Replacement: Kari Lehtonen
The Dallas Stars fans will be cheering in the streets this offseason when Kari Lehtonen’s atrocious contract comes to a close. Lehtonen is not necessarily a bad goalie, but he is no longer the elite goalie he once was. The Stars will have a lot more cap space for the free agency period and can help build themselves up.
Kari Lehtonen is actually having a fairly decent year and could benefit playing for the Arizona Coyotes.
This would allow the Coyotes to have a veteran goalie and who could help their younger players mature. Lehtonen would also have the chance to be a starting goalie again. All in all, it would be a win for both parties.
18 Unemployed: Henrik Lundqvist
The New York Rangers have completely failed in their quest to be champions and now are about to go through a massive rebuild. According to the Rangers management, every player is on the market, including their captain, Ryan McDonagh. Yet, could King Henrik Lundqvist be on the move as well?
With Henrik Lundqvist getting older, there is a huge chance he will be moved. Lundqvist deserves the chance to win the Stanley Cup and that simply will not happen with the Rangers. Also, the Rangers could get a lot from him because he is still a franchise type goalie. This will be the end of his reign with the Rangers.
17 Replacement: Malcolm Subban
The Vegas Golden Knights are absolutely dominating the NHL and it is extremely shocking considering the fact that they were expected to be the worst team in the league. Yet, they have been so great this year because of their offensive depth and spectacular goaltending. They have two quality starters, but one may have to go.
The Golden Knights picked up Malcolm Subban off waivers and he has been outstanding for them.
With Marc-Andre Fleury as their number one, the Golden Knights may make a trade. The Rangers should aggressively pursue Subban because he is young and the perfect goalie to start a rebuild with.
16 Unemployed: Jaroslav Halak
It is pretty shocking to see that Jaroslav Halak is still the starting goalie for the New York Islanders even though his play has dropped off dramatically. There is a chance that Halak could land another NHL deal this offseason, but it will not be with the Islanders for sure. The Islanders need a major upgrade.
Jaraslav Halak is still good enough to be in the league, but not as a starting goalie for a team that has John Tavares.
If the Islanders want to win with Tavares in his prime, they need an elite goalie at the helm. Halak would also benefit with a change of scenery because it would give him far less pressure.
15 Replacement: Craig Anderson
The Ottawa Senators are about to enter a significant rebuilding phase this offseason and that is truly shocking. The Senators were literally one goal away from reaching the Stanley Cup Finals last season and now things have entirely changed. With that said, a massive fire sale will soon be arriving in Ottawa.
Craig Anderson is a goalie who definitely will be traded this offseason and the Islanders would be a great destination. Although Anderson has struggled a bit this season, there is little doubt that he could find his game again. Anderson has been elite for the Senators over the years and deserves the chance to play for a winning team again.
14 Unemployed: Mike Smith
The Calgary Flames are having a very solid year this season and that is mainly due to their young core of players. The Flames do look like a team who can very well compete for the next couple of years, but they do need to make some changes in the process. One area is goaltending.
Mike Smith is not a bad goalie at all, but he may not be the guy that will lead the Flames to a Stanley Cup.
Smith is getting older and is starting to show some minor signs of depleting skill. With that being said, they should use the value he has left and pick up some assets to help their depth.
13 Replacement: Anton Khudobin
Anton Khudobin is having a career renaissance this year and will be looking for a pretty big deal this offseason. Khudobin is a big reason why the Boston Bruins are having such a strong year this season and he has been absolutely stellar. With that said, he should be a hot commodity available this offseason.
The Calgary Flames should take a chance on Anton Khudobin because he is playing like a top notch goalie this year. Ideally, the Flames should look at giving him a short term deal, but nonetheless, if he continues to play the way he is, it would be an upgrade. It could end up being the move that leads the Flames to star status.
12 Unemployed: Robin Lehner
The Buffalo Sabres are having an abysmal season yet again and will need to go through another rebuilding period with different players. Besides Jack Eichel, it is fair to assume that every player on the roster is on the trade market. The Sabres need to do this so they can move on from this ongoing losing culture.
Robin Lehner is a restricted free agent after this season, but the Sabres will look to move him because of his trade value.
It is better to trade him now than potentially lose him for nothing in the near future. The Sabres can end up getting some solid pieces for their rebuild by trading the young goalie and improve from it immensely.
11 Replacement: Michael Hutchinson
The Winnipeg Jets are an extremely interesting team with their goaltending because they have four NHL caliber goalies. Yet, due to the fact that you can only dress two per game, they have the other two with their AHL affiliate. With that said, the Jets will be moving at least two of them to build their roster in other areas.
Michael Hutchinson is definitely going to be traded this offseason and the Buffalo Sabres should look to acquire him. Hutchinson has been a very solid goalie in the past, and with the Sabres struggling, they can afford to take a chance. Hutchinson could end up being a solid option for them at a cheap price.
10 Unemployed: Jacob Markstrom
The Vancouver Canucks are a team that are very weak, but they refuse to go into a full rebuild. Instead, they often sign veterans to abysmal contracts and it almost never works out for them. This season has just been another example of that and they will end up with another high draft pick yet again.
The Vancouver Canucks need to make major changes with their goaltending and move on from Jacob Markstrom.
Markstrom is not a bad player, but he has shown that he cannot handle the pressure of being a starting goalie in the NHL. With that said, it will not be surprising at all if the Canucks decide to let him go.
9 Replacement: Thatcher Demko
The Vancouver Canucks need to go young in all areas of the ice, including goaltending. It is finally time to allow top prospect Thatcher Demko to take over the starting goalie position because he deserves it. Demko had an unbelievable college career and has done very well in the AHL as well. It’s time for the kid to start.
The Canucks need to take more gambles from within their system because they are allowing their prospects to lose value if they don’t. Demko is still a top notch prospect, but it has been far too long for him to be an NHL regular. The Canucks are going to be entering a very rough transition, so it’s time to play the young guys.
8 Unemployed: Brian Elliott
The Philadelphia Flyers are currently fighting for a playoff berth in easily the toughest division in the NHL. If the Flyers want to consistently compete with their division foes, they need to find a legitimate starting goalie. Brian Elliott is not necessarily an elite talent and they simply need someone better.
Brian Elliott is still decent enough for the Philadelphia Flyers to net something valuable in return. The Flyers need to build a strong roster in all areas of the ice, so this would end up being a smart move by the club. The Flyers need a solid and long term goalie between the pipes and honestly, Elliott just isn’t that guy.
7 Replacement: Petr Mrazek
The Detroit Red Wings are in an interesting spot because, even though they are rebuilding, they have two starting caliber goaltenders on their roster. With that said, it definitely is time to move on from one of them. The Red Wings definitely seem to favour Jimmy Howard, so Petr Mrazek appears to be the one to go.
The Philadelphia Flyers should take a chance on Petr Mrazek because he is still growing in skill and could end up becoming their starting goalie for the long term. In the past, Mrazek showed signs of being elite, so there’s a good chance he could find his skill with a secure position on the depth chart.
6 Unemployed: Semyon Varlamov
The Colorado Avalanche are shocking the NHL this season and are currently on the verge of playoff contention. Although there’s a still a large chance they will not make it, they are competing and looking great in the process. Their talented young players is the main reason for this and this could ultimately carry them later on.
Yet, it is apparent that it may be time for the Colorado Avalanche to move on from Semyon Varlamov. His contract is far too high for a goalie of his caliber and that is not beneficial for a team that is currently still rebuilding. They could end up getting a pretty solid package for Varlamov and find a doable replacement for him.
5 Replacement: Steve Mason
Steve Mason is another goalie who is currently stuck in a tough situation with the Winnipeg Jets. Although he is having an off year, he is easily a player who deserves to be in a starting role. His limited starts is ultimately killing his performance because it is not allowing him to get into a constant groove.
The Colorado Avalanche should give Steve Mason a chance because he showed signs of pure dominance with the Flyers just a few short seasons ago. Mason is an elite goalie when he is confident and in the right situation and Colorado would make a lot of sense with them being in a rebuilding phase.
4 Unemployed: Devan Dubnyk
The Minnesota Wild are having a bit of a disappointing year and need to figure out what they have to do to make this team win. They have a strong cast of forwards and defenders, but there place in standings is determined by Devan Dubnyk. Yet, this season he has been very disappointing after a spectacular year.
With Devan Dubnyk showing signs of being a one hit wonder and his value still high, the Wild should look to move him for a star player. There are plenty of teams who would be willing to give Dubnyk a chance to play for them because he is elite when he is on his game. Yet, the Wild need to win and his inconsistency is hurting them.
3 Replacement: Jonathan Bernier
Jonathan Bernier is having a nice career turnaround this season and that is wonderful to see. Bernier used to deal with immense criticism for his play with the Toronto Maple Leafs, even when it was not always warranted. This negatively impacted his play immensely because it ruined his confidence entirely.
Jonathan Bernier is showing the league that he does have the ability to be a starting goalie and the Minnesota Wild should give him a chance to show them. Bernier would not cost a lot and could be used as a starter or even backup. The possibilities are endless with a player like Bernier and he could be a real difference maker.
2 Unemployed: Cam Talbot
Cam Talbot had a sensational first year with the Edmonton Oilers and was an elite goalie. Yet, this season has taken a dark turn for the worst and Talbot is playing atrociously. Talbot most likely is struggling because the guys in front of him aren’t playing well, but he needs to find his game or he will be moved. He should be.
If this continues, the Oilers should try to gain some new assets and help them become contenders again. Connor McDavid needs to play for a winning team because right now, he can’t be the only player carrying this team. Edmonton needs to be aggressive and find a way to solve their issues and that starts with goaltending.
1 Replacement: Carey Price
The Montreal Canadiens are having such a disappointing year and it has resulted in a plethora of trade rumors. One major player that could be on the move is recently extended, franchise goalie, Carey Price. Price is stuck in limbo with the Canadiens because he has literally no one in front of him who can help him win.
The Edmonton Oilers would be a perfect for Price because the best goalie in the world would join arguably the best skater. McDavid and Price would make the Oilers practically unbeatable and could result in many Stanley Cups. The Oilers are desperate for a star goalie, so why should they not take a crack at Price?